We tested 10 programs for PC system utilities and repair that cover a wide price range to determine which one is the best for most people’s computer repair or optimization needs. Our overall winner is Glary Utilities Pro 5. It significantly sped up our test computer’s bootup process and improved all-around performance, word and data processing, graphics processing and video chat. It’s packed with advanced tools and is easy to install and use. It can even be used on up to three computers.
Glary Utilities Pro 5
Glary Utilities Pro is our choice for the best overall PC utilities software. It’s the best choice thanks to its diagnostic consistency, ease of use, and comprehensive positive returns for word and data processing, graphics processing and video chat.
Advanced SystemCare Pro 11
Advanced SystemCare Pro is not only affordable but offers improvement for graphics processing. It even comes with addition tools like file recovery, and it’ll work on as many as three computers.
System Cleaner 7
System Cleaner not only optimized our test computer’s bootup speeds by 52.27 percent, it was the easiest program to install and use in our comparison. It also provided solid diagnostic consistency.
Glary Utilities Pro was developed by Glarysoft Ltd. to be a comprehensive PC system utility program, with all kinds of computer maintenance tools for cleaning registries, freeing up disk space, managing drivers, tightening up privacy and maintaining security protocols.
It also includes over 20 other tools meant for improving and optimizing your computer. In each round of our tests, Glary Utilities Pro had a high diagnostic consistency score, and it performed the best overall in our comparison.
The average improvement to our test PC after three rounds of testing was 12.62 percent which, although it was the best result in our comparison, wasn’t enough to make a noticeable difference. In fact, the computer’s performance ranked in the bottom 12 percent of computers in the PCMark10 benchmarking tests both before and after running the optimization tools. In other words, even though Glary produced the best performance improvement, it wasn’t enough to turn a slow computer into a fast one, and you shouldn’t expect anything different.
The application improved the word and data processing by an average of 6.1 percent, and it improved the graphics processing by 6.35 percent. However, it fell short with improving browsing speed and video chat quality. While running its bootup optimization tool, we increased our test PC’s startup speed by over 34 percent. Though this is one of the better scores from our tests, the Windows startup manager tool still outperformed it, achieving a 42 percent improvement. Additionally, the program only recouped about 800MB of storage.
Glary Utilities Pro received an A for diagnostic consistency, meaning it found and resolved all errors, and didn’t find any more major errors when we ran it again to double check. We ran almost 30 of these tests, so an A diagnostic consistency grade is excellent.
Disappointingly, we felt we had to give Glary Utilities Pro a C for its ease of use. The average novice user may find it more difficult to use than most of the other software in our review, though intermediate users should have no problems navigating it. While the one-click maintenance tab allows all of the optimization tools to run simultaneously, the rest of the interface is complicated, cluttered and requires some prior knowledge to navigate effectively. Additionally, it earned a C- for the ease of its installation because it tries to get you to install additional software, Malware Hunter.
Glary Utilities Pro has over 20 optimization tools. You can back up and restore your entire system, recover accidentally deleted files, repair shortcuts and registries, optimize security and privacy, and shred and encrypt files. The only advanced tool lacking is an SSD (solid-state drive) optimizer, but only a few PC utility apps have this tool, and it’s not critical to performance.
Advanced SystemCare Pro has a clean interface that guides you through the process of tuning up and enhancing your PC’s performance.
For the most part, it’s easy enough for novice users to navigate and successfully use. Its bonus advanced file recovery tool can recoup a file you may have accidentally deleted. However, the developer’s website claims that the software can boost your computer’s internet browsing speed by 300 percent; this claim – and many others, unfortunately – fell flat in our tests.
We ran three rounds of testing and learned that Advanced SystemCare Pro had some of the worst performance results across all of our test categories. It actually made our computer slower by 7.12 percent. The only positive change in these tests was a 4.53 percent improvement to graphics processing. Basic word and data processing decreased by 16.10 percent, web browsing slowed by 3.42 percent and video chat declined by 1.87 percent. By comparison, Glary Utilities Pro, our top overall pick, improved our test PC’s performance by 12.62 percent. On a positive note, however, this slowed performance wasn’t significant enough to make the computer seem slower.
When we tested Advanced SystemCare Pro to determine if it could recoup storage space on our test hard drive, it actually consumed an additional 1.6GB for no discernable reason. This is disappointing considering we intentionally left items in our test PC’s recycle bin and didn’t clear any caches prior to testing, which should have been easy fixes.
To make matters worse, our test PC’s bootup speed decreased by a whopping 73.21 percent. For comparison, some of the best apps we reviewed improved bootup speed between 34 and 53 percent, which provides a noteworthy and welcome boost. Even Windows’ built-in startup management tool easily increased our test computer’s bootup speed by 42 percent.
Advanced SystemCare’s best feature is how easy it is to use. It has an intuitive interface and is decently easy to navigate. You can run optimizations with a single click while still accessing advanced tools for deeper optimizations. Ultimately, though, the app does more harm than good.
Easiest to Use
System Cleaner is a suite of optimization tools that, together, can improve your PC’s performance and help you maintain its overall health.
Although we determined from our extensive testing that System Cleaner only produces minimal improvements, it did provide our test computer with an undeniably impressive boost in bootup speed. What’s more, it also comes with advanced tools for managing and maintaining your computer’s health, like file recovery, system security and privacy optimization, as well as a system backup and restore option.
We ran three rounds of tests using System Cleaner, and it enhanced our computer’s performance by 4.78 percent overall. This is negligible, although it’s the average in our comparison of system utility and repair software.
System Cleaner produced the most impressive result from all of our testing – a 52.27 percent increase to bootup speed. Not only was it the best improvement overall, it was actually high enough to be noticeable. Even the built-in Windows startup manager only boosted this by 42 percent. The application has additional tools, including privacy and security optimization, file recovery and even a system backup and restore option.
In our tests, we found System Cleaner to be extremely easy and quick to install. It only took a few clicks to get it up and running. It was also one of the easiest programs to use, with a clean and intuitive layout. All the tools and settings are easy to find. The license allows you to install it on up to three computers.
Though no PC system utility software can make an old computer run like a new top-of-the-line machine, WinOptimizer does a pretty good job of improving multiple aspects of performance.
It can even recover a little bit of storage space. This is impressive considering it’s the least costly program in our comparison. However, the caveat, it would seem, is that it wasn’t the easiest application to install and it struggled to provide consistent diagnostics throughout each round of tests we performed.
WinOptimizer’s greatest victory in our tests was that it improved our test computer’s boot-up speed by over 38 percent. Sure, there is still room for improvement, but it is an undeniably impressive feat for an old desktop PC that’s been heavily used. This program gives you three individual computer licenses and is supported by good customer service. It comes with additional functions, including file recovery, system backup and restore, file encryption, and security and privacy optimization. WinOptimizer is a great deal given its low price.
Best Storage Recovery
With WinZip System Utilities Suite, you can easily improve aspects of your computer’s performance, recover storage space and maintain its health during future usage.
In our tests, we used all available optimization tools within the program, then used PCMark 10 to benchmark performance for graphics processing, video chat quality, web browsing speed and word and data processing. The PC cleaner suite struggled to improve a few of these aspects, though it brought improvements to graphics, word and data processing.
Recovering storage space is really where WinZip System Utilities shines. It recovered more than triple what any other program recouped, which can really come in handy if you need every last gigabyte for important documents and photos. It wasn’t the easiest program to install and use in our comparison, and it slowed our test computer’s boot-up speed by over 124 percent. It worked slowly too. So, though WinZip System Utilities isn’t the best overall performer, it’s our recommendation if you need to recoup storage space on your drive.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Price||System Improvement||Ease of Use||Advanced Tools||Support & Licensing||Overall Performance Boost (%)||Word & Data Processing (%)||Graphics Processing (%)||Web Browsing (%)||Video Chat (%)||Boot-Up Optimization (%)||Storage Recovered (GB)||Ease of Use||Ease of Installation||Diagnostic Consistency||System Backup & Restore||File Recovery||Security & Privacy Optimization||File Encryption||Number of Computer Licenses||Phone||Live Chat||Online Resources|
|Glary Utilities Pro||View Deal||4.5/5||4||4.2||5||4.3||5||12.62||6.1||6.35||0||1.8||34.52||0.8||5||C||A||✓||✓||✓||✓||3||✓||✖||✖||✓|
|System Cleaner 7||View Deal||4/5||4||4.2||3.8||5||3.8||4.78||-1.08||5.49||0.16||0.2||52.27||1.3||3.8||A||A-||✓||✓||✓||✖||3||✓||✖||✖||✓|
|System Mechanic||View Deal||4/5||4.5||3.4||3.7||4.4||3.8||9.34||2.98||5.56||0||0||42.79||1.3||3.7||A||C+||✓||✓||✓||✖||Unlimited||✖||✓||✖||✓|
|AVG PC TuneUp||3.5/5||3||4.2||4.5||4.3||1.3||10.74||5.03||5.43||0.04||0.23||45.96||0||4.5||D+||A||✖||✓||✖||✖||3||✖||✓||✓||✓|
|PC Mechanic||View Deal||3.5/5||4||4.2||4.7||4.3||0||11.94||6.99||4.81||-1.06||0.12||21.28||0.4||4.7||C||A||✖||✖||✖||✖||3||✓||✖||✖||✓|
|Fix-It Utilities 15 Pro||3.5/5||4||5||1.8||4.3||3.8||-2.74||-5.21||4.44||-0.86||-1.1||45.71||-0.7||1.8||A||A||✓||✖||✓||✖||5||✓||✓||✖||✓|
|WinZip System Utilities Suite||View Deal||3.5/5||4||3.4||2.8||3.2||2.5||2.25||-1.44||5.4||-1.54||-0.71||124.17||5.4||2.8||D-||B-||✓||✓||✖||✖||1||✓||✖||✖||✓|
|Advanced SystemCare PRO||View Deal||3/5||4.8||3.3||1.4||3.2||1.3||-7.12||-16.1||4.53||-3.42||-1.87||73.21||-0.6||1.4||C||C-||✖||✓||✖||✖||3||✖||✓||✖||✓|
Why Trust Us
We have been reviewing PC system utility software since 2005 and have done more than 120 hours of hands-on testing. We created a unique test environment and saved a restore point that we’d return our test computer to after running each test so that each application would run under the same conditions.
We used PCMark 10, a third-party benchmarking site, to measure the performance stats of our test PC before and after running each program, and we ran three rounds of tests for each as well. We also performed a hefty amount of online research – comparing features on developer pages, reading customer reviews and watching informational videos, then integrating them with our own test findings. We contacted developers and everyday users to get expert opinions about which PC repair software works best for distinct types of users and situations.
The Sweet Spot: Price and Quality
PC system utility software ranges from $10 to $50, but you’ll find the biggest jump in quality between $20 and $40. We think $40 is the sweet spot, but it ultimately comes down to your computer’s specs and average usage.
How We Tested
The entire purpose of PC system utility software is to improve your computer’s performance. We tested each product thoroughly on our test PC, just like we’ve been doing for over 13 years. The data we gathered serves as the foundation for our reviews and all the information we share here. As the data is so important, we used a repeatable test method to make it a fair and accurate comparison.
To start, we tracked down an old and very slow desktop home computer that runs Windows 7. The computer is six years old and has 6GB of RAM and 750GB of storage. It's been used primarily as a home computer for writing, photo editing and music production, and it has had hundreds of programs installed and uninstalled over the years. We ran the PCMark 8 Home test multiple times to set the baseline performance. In each test, it ranked in the bottom 12 percent. We also used the BootRacer app to measure the average bootup speed.
Before testing the PC system utility software, we created a backup image of our test computer so that we could restore it to this sluggish point between every test. This way, every product scanned and fixed the same exact computer.
One at a time, we installed each PC system utility app, ran every optimization tool it offered and fixed all the errors that it suggested. Once the computer was fully optimized and fixed, we ran the scans three additional times to see if the software was consistent – would it find additional errors immediately after fixing errors? Unfortunately, some system cleaner programs are designed to make you think they’re doing more than they really are so you’ll feel like they’re working.
Once we felt like we'd optimized the computer as best we could with the PC utility app, we ran the same PCMark 8 test we used for the original baseline test. We then compared the results to see if the performance had improved.
We also recorded three passes with BootRacer to measure improvements to bootup speed. Each product in our review has a startup manager, and we only disabled apps the software recommended.
Once a product was completely tested, we restored the test PC to its original condition and tested the next product. To ensure our results weren't based on a single round of tests, we cycled through this process multiple times with every product to find a reliable average.
PC Utility Software: What To Look For
The PC Cleaner Tool
After months or years of use, your PC stores a large number of unnecessary temporary files. As they’re called temporary files, you’d think they would go away on their own. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and these files can take up large chunks of your hard drive’s storage space.
One of the most useful features you’ll find in PC system utility software is PC cleaner, or something similarly named. This tool searches your computer for temporary files and other useless junk taking up space. It then permanently deletes those files and gives you more storage space. This can be especially useful on laptops, which traditionally have limited storage.
In addition to clearing out temporary files, many PC system utility suites look for duplicate files on your computer. If the utility software finds any, it prompts you to delete them. This often frees up some storage space on older computers.
PC Maintenance & Tune-up Utilities
Just as regular maintenance helps keep your car running smoothly, regular tune-ups help keep your computer running efficiently. However, that doesn’t mean you should let your PC system utility software change whatever it wants to change.
Sometimes the changes it suggests can make your computer slower or create errors elsewhere. For example, several of the products we tested automatically removed a file critical to a restore point, which made it impossible for us to restore the computer to a previous point. If we hadn’t prepared for this, by cloning our system and saving it as a backup restore point, we would not have been able to restore our test computer to the specified point we created in order to continue testing.
Here are some important do’s and don’ts of PC maintenance:
Regularly clean out your temporary files and folders.
Not only does this free up storage space – it can improve your security. Sometimes, temporary files contain sensitive or vital information, and it’s easy for anyone to get access to those temporary files if they really want to.
Always know what applications are running and which ones start with Windows.
The largest drain on a computer’s performance is multiple applications running simultaneously. If you aren’t careful, that number can grow alarmingly in a relatively short period. If your computer takes forever to start, it could be because there are too many applications that start up with Windows. Often, each program needs to finish loading before your computer becomes usable.
PC system utility software can easily improve your computer’s startup process, and the necessary features are usually included in one-click optimization tools. Of course, the Windows control panel also includes tools to improve your startup, and they actually work quite well.
Here are some tasks you really should avoid:
Don’t bother with registry cleaning or repair.
Back in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Windows wasn’t particularly good at handling its own registry. Old machines often had convoluted and contradictory registries, so it made sense to use registry cleaners and repair software. However, even then you needed to be careful. Today, Windows is much better at taking care of its registry, and for most people there isn’t any good reason to mess with it. Even with PC system utility software, it’s best to leave out any registry cleaners since deleting the wrong registry can make things much worse.
Defragmenting your hard drive often only wears it out more quickly.
Disk defragmentation is another maintenance task that used to be more important than it is today. In the past, performing disk defrag on your hard disk drive (HDD) often resulted in a good amount of freed-up space and improved performance. In the last 10 or so years, however, HDDs have gotten much larger and faster, and operating systems have gotten more efficient in how information is written to the drives.
On a side note, you should never defragment a solid-state drive (SSD). Defragmenting is strictly for HDDs and was built with their physical read and write process in mind. SSDs do not work in the same way, and you can easily ruin a perfectly good SSD by trying to defrag it. Fortunately, most PC system utility software will warn you before you try to defrag an SSD.
PC System Utility: What Do Experts Say?
In previous years, we’ve warned readers to avoid PC system utility software because these apps can make your computer worse. We’re not the only ones that warn against using them either – Microsoft start labeling PC tune-up programs “unwanted software” in 2015 because the apps are too often difficult to uninstall, become invasive and don’t improve performance in any measurable way. To explore these issues further, we talked to several IT and computer optimization experts to get their perspective on PC system utility software. This is what they said:
Constantine Varis, managing director at London-based Computer Being Ltd.
He warns that system repair programs “often do more harm than good. Our clients often purchase utilities such as PC Mechanic only to find out that the performance boost was far less than expected.” Varis recommends users upgrade their hard drives to an SSD (solid-state drive) and “do regular cleanup of cache and temporary files.” He suggests that this simple upgrade and maintenance technique will provide users with a better performance boost than any PC utility app.
Ryan Meyer, an IT Professional with over 10 years of experience
The biggest problem with a slow computer, according to Meyer, is the autoruns – “software, services, and drivers which accumulate over time and run in the background of your system.” Cleaning up these autoruns is difficult, he explains, because “it depends on personal preference, and removing the wrong one could potentially cause a machine not to boot.”
Todd Millecam, CEO of SWYM Systems, Inc.
With over 20 years of experience using PC utility software and over 10 years of computer programming experience, Millecam argues that modern operating systems have made most of these utility apps obsolete and that the “vast majority of third-party repair and optimizer programs for Windows are malicious in nature and will do your computer harm.” In fact, the only PC repair app that he says has provided any benefit is CCLeaner, a free PC utility app that helped clear out 18GB storage from his program libraries. He recommends using the internal repair tools developed by Microsoft. He especially warns against any PC utility suite that provides active monitoring, because this does “more harm than good.”
PC Utility Software: Why Use It?
As you can see, experts warn against using these apps, arguing that they simply cannot make your computer faster and can often make things worse. The software publishers often make outrageous claims that our tests easily disprove. For example, AVG PC TuneUp suggests it can boost performance by 77 percent, increase battery life by 117 percent and find 75GB of storage. Another product, Advanced System Care Pro, claims it can boost your slow PC’s performance by 300 percent. Our reviews show the much more modest reality.
So, why should you consider PC system utility software? Well, truthfully, most people don’t need these suites. We tested and evaluated the best PC system utility software on the market, and even the best-performing product failed to produce significant improvements to performance. The worst-performing products made our test computer slower.
In addition, almost all of the tools typically found within these apps are already built into Windows OS, and they work just as well, if not better. As such, the only reason to use PC system utility software is if you find the Windows tools to be difficult to navigate and use. One of the good things about PC system utility software is that the tools are all in one centralized interface that turns maintenance into a one-click task.
Supplementary Maintenance Programs
If you don’t think that you’ll need every program offered within these comprehensive suites or you’re wanting something different, there are other options available to you.
Backup and Imaging Software. Crashes are less common on newer computers than old ones, but it still happens and it’s always devastating, especially if you haven’t saved your data elsewhere.. But by using backup or imaging software to make copies of your files or entire computer system regularly, you won’t have to worry about losing important files in the event of a crash.
Driver Update Software. Each component in the peripheral devices connected to your computer uses a driver to communicate with the computer. When these become outdated, they stop working correctly or, in some cases, stop working altogether. Multiple outdated drivers can cause your computer suffer decreased performance or freeze. If you don’t know how to manually update your drivers, driver update software can automatically update all of your drivers and regularly scan for new updates
Antivirus Software. It can be difficult to know what is safe to click on or download from the internet, and it’s not hard to accidentally downloaded a virus or malware at some point. Luckily, antivirus software can help protect your computer from viruses and other dangerous programs. You can set it up to regularly scan your machine and alert you to problems.
Disk Defragmenter Software. If it feels like your computer is a bit sluggish, especially if it’s taking a long time to retrieve files, you may benefit from disk defragmenter software. Its primary function is to repair and consolidate fragmented files on traditional hard disk drives. However, it can also locate and notify you about duplicate and old files, helping you more easily manage the contents of your hard drive and keep it in pristine condition.
Many software developers limit the number of computers on which you can install their software. This widespread practice is an attempt to protect developers from piracy. However, it usually frustrates paying customers who have more than one computer that needs attention.
Some of the PC system utility software suites we reviewed only offer a single computer license. For a product that costs roughly between $30 and $60, you expect to have more control over where you use it. If you have two computers in your household, then it’s a good idea to make sure the software developer lets you install the program on two or more machines. The best PC system utility software suites we reviewed give you an unlimited number of installs, thus covering all of your machines and allowing you to uninstall and reinstall the software without worry.